Evanston’s Redistricting Committee Tuesday is scheduled to consider issues to address in redrawing the boundaries of two of the three wards that include portions of downtown.

The 2nd Ward’s population is now 5% greater than the average for the city and the 4th Ward’s population is 2.4% less than the city average.

But those variations are smaller than in any of the wards that surround the 2nd and 4th, so it’s not entirely clear why the committee is starting its review with those two wards.

A map prepared by Redistricting Committee Chair Jonathan Nieuwsma showing 2020 Census population variation by ward.

The committee canceled a meeting last month that was scheduled consider the 1st and 3rd wards after Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) scheduled a ward meeting at the time the redistricting panel was scheduled to meet.

Perhaps complicating Tuesday evening’s session is the fact that the 2nd Ward council seat is now vacant, following the resignation of Ald. Peter Braithwaite.

The committee has pledged to have a new map ready for City Council approval after next April’s election.

New computer technology makes it relatively easy to draw any number of potential maps that meet goals of equal population and compact shape.

But meeting other considerations — like assuring minority representation — can still be challenging.

Redistricting efforts always raise questions about whether they result in gerrymandering — the creating of district boundaries designed to favor one political group over another.

Monday’s Washington Post story “Can computer simulations help fix democracy?” offers a deep dive into whether computers can be used to provide convincing evidence that illegal gerrymandering has taken place.

The Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. in Room 2404 at the Civic Center and the session is also scheduled to be available online via Zoom.

Update 5:15 p.m.: We’ve learned that the meeting has been switched to an all-virtual format — so Zoom is the way to go.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. It is not too late to move the Fifth Ward boundaries 300 feet north across the McCormick/Green Bay intersection to include Kingsley school.

    That would save taxpayers a bundle since we won’t have to spend $30 million to build a new “Fifth Ward School” literally 1500 feet south, which is the current plan.

    Heck, push the Fifth Ward boundary to Lincoln/Greenbay and Lincoln/Prairie and you can put Haven in the Fifth Ward as well.

    Two Fifth Ward schools for price of nothing!

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